Understanding working classes

  • Working classes combine the flatwork of showing with jumping over natural fences. There are classes for working hunters, cobs, riding horses and Mountain and Moorland ponies, which are judged on a mixture of jumping style and performance, conformation and ride.

    At bigger shows, working hunter classes are often divided into novice, lightweight and heavyweight categories and horses must be over 15hh.

    Cobs are classified as novice or open, with the same height rules for show classes. Mountain and Moorland ponies are divided into small and large breeds with novice and open sections in each.

    Expect a course of natural fences. They will be rustic or white and may include water, ditches, banks and bullfinches (high hedges with thin tops which the horse is supposed to brush through rather than clear).

    The height of fences at local novice working hunter, cob and riding horse classes will be about 2ft 6in. At affiliated level, novice cob and riding horse courses are about 3ft to 3ft 3in and in open ones you will be jumping 3ft 3in to 3ft 6in. Open working hunters may be 3ft 9in and Mountain and Moorland classes will depend on the size of the ponies competing and the judges’ discretion.

    Class format

    Each competitor will enter the ring individually and jump a course of fences. Depending on numbers and performance, a percentage will be called back for the showing and conformation judging; at local level, this may be clear rounds only.

    Horses are shown under saddle at walk, trot, canter and gallop. At county level, the judge will ride them but this doesn’t always happen at local shows. The horses are then stood up without saddles for conformation assessment.

    At top level, marks are awarded out of a possible total of 100. This comprises 20 marks for ride, 20 for conformation and 60 for jumping. In the jumping section, 40 marks are for actual performance and 20 for style and presence.

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